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Fighting Lions leave it late to edge past Kangas

Highlights: Brisbane v North Melbourne The Lions and Kangaroos clash in round 18

THE decade-long finals drought is almost over for Brisbane, but only after North Melbourne gave the Lions the fright of their lives. 

In a see-sawing final quarter that saw the lead change hands four times, the home team kicked two goals in the final minute to escape with a 12.15 (87) to 12.3 (75) victory.

Scores were tied inside the final two minutes before Oscar McInerney was awarded a free kick 20m from goal after a marking infringement against Scott Thompson.

The towering ruckman calmly slotted the go-ahead goal to the delight of the 23,833 fans at the Gabba.

Hugh McCluggage added some icing with a goal after the final siren.

FIGHTING LIONS LEAVE IT LATE Full match coverage and stats

Brisbane's win moves it to second place on the ladder with a 12-5 record and now just one victory away from securing its first finals berth since 2009.

North kicked five of the game's first six goals and for the next two-and-a-half quarters the Lions huffed and puffed but couldn't quite blow the house down.

They slowly got on top in most statistical categories but failed to capitalise on the scoreboard.

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The win was their fifth straight – the first time the club has achieved that feat since 2007.

For the second week in succession Jarryd Lyons was a midfield monster, finishing with 30 touches (23 contested, 13 clearances and, just as importantly, two crucial goals.

Lachie Neale was again the target of some close attention, cleaned up by Jed Anderson at a first quarter centre bounce and then hit again, late, by Jy Simpkin from the ensuing free kick.

The Kangaroos' physicality went well beyond Neale though, as they bounced out to an early lead to quieten the strong home crowd.

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Shaun Higgins was sublime in his first game back from shoulder surgery, compiling 27 disposals and a goal, while Ben Brown kicked three goals in an engrossing battle with Harris Andrews.

Ben Cunnington was terrific in the final quarter when the Roos pushed hard, but in Daniel Rich's 200th game, the weight of numbers eventually won out.

Brisbane had 67 inside 50s to 43, won the clearances 50-40 and won the contested possession count 162-133.

WATCH The thrilling final two minutes

North's clinical finishing around goal in the first half kept them in the contest, with Mason Wood kicking two rippers – the second of which came just prior to half-time from the junction of the 50m arc and left-hand boundary line.

Brisbane: The Lions got through unscathed. Hugh McCluggage (hamstring) and Eric Hipwood (knee) showed no signs of the niggles that kept them out of the previous week's victory. 

North Melbourne: Clean bill of health for the Roos with Shaun Higgins getting through successfully after returning from shoulder surgery.

The difficult matches keep coming for Brisbane, with Hawthorn awaiting in Launceston next Saturday from 1.45pm. The Lions have won the past three contests between the clubs, including one earlier this season. North Melbourne travels west to play the Eagles at Optus Stadium on Saturday at 2.35pm (AWST).

                  1.4   4.7   7.12  12.15 (87)
NORTH MELBOURNE   5.0   8.2   8.2   12.3 (75)

Brisbane: Christensen 3, Lyons 2, Cameron 2, McInerney 2, McCluggage 2, Rich
North Melbourne: Brown 3, Wood 2, Larkey 2, Thomas 2, Higgins, Cunnington, Polec, 

BrisbaneLyons, Zorko, Neale, Answerth, Hodge, Berry
North MelbourneHiggins, Cunnington, Polec, Dumont, Anderson, Williams

Brisbane: TBC

North Melbourne: TBC

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Fisher, Stevic, Stephens

Official crowd: 23,833 at the Gabba